The nominations for tonight’s awards are amazing, a thorough inspection of which you can find here, and a true show of how strong heavy music is right now. While the awards themselves are exciting and interesting, the bands playing are perhaps even more exciting. So let’s talk about that first.
On first are Coldbones. Prog metal can be a hard sell as the first band on, especially if it’s entirely instrumental. If the sound had been bad Coldbones could have really suffered with the intricacies being lost. Thankfully the sound was solid all night and Coldbones’ music is interesting and intricate enough to hold your attention. The balance between more expansive passages, heavy riffing and melodic phrases reminiscent of classical minimalism is perfect and the band’s full commitment to an energetic performance has certainly convinced me to listen to the band on my own time. It’s a shame the crowd was still a bit sparse for their set but I’ve a feeling that they’ve won over a good few fans.
Following this is Black Peaks. Black Peaks are fantastic at what they do, their expansive post-hardcore is as intricate and technical as it can be earth shatteringly heavy. Being absolutely in love with their debut album Statues, I was a tad worried that the fantastic vocals and intricate instrumental work might not be achievable live. I was wrong, vocalist Will Gardner continued to show himself as one of the best vocalists in the world today by nailing every single note and scream while still putting on a massively energetic performance. The rest of the band were also on perfect for, the drumming was mind blowing and the riffing from both guitar and bass was perhaps the most accurate to the record of any band of the evening. Combine this with the best songs of the night, Say You Will is perhaps the best song of the decade, and new material sounding massive as well as promising one of the best albums of the year when it does drop later this year.
A long interruption in a show can kill the momentum and make it difficult for the following band to pick up from that point. It didn’t seem to faze Milk Teeth, however, coming on after a few awards were handed out. Though this maybe because they did win one of those awards. That aside, Milk Teeth were hugely energetic, their grungy punk really strikes a chord with those of us in their twenties. The performance was tight enough to not sound like a mess but loose enough to not feel over polished. All members of the band really committed to their performance, even Em Foster from Nervus, who was standing in on guitar, seemed at home with being on stage with the rest of the band. What was even more impressive was how well drummer Oli Holbrook managed to hold it together while visibly expressing pain from an injured shoulder. Again, the setlist choice was immaculate, if Black Peaks hadn’t played Say You Will earlier Milk Teeth’s set closer, Owning Your Okayness, would have been the best song of the night.
Following another break for some more awards, the most hyped band of the evening, The Fever 333, performed. I was a tad sceptical going into their performance, while I’d heard stories of their energetic performances, that doesn’t matter if the music isn’t good. The Fever’s music that’s been released so far hasn’t done much for me. Having seen it live now I have to put a lot of my misgivings down to the production on the EP which robbed the guitar of a lot of their presence and weight. Live the guitars crunch a lot more and provide a lot more life to the music. When the guitars aren’t present the music loses a lot of drive and interest, I think the band would massively benefit from a live bassist to really lock in with the drums to provide more of a groove during quieter moments. Regardless of all of that vocalist Jason Butler is more than able to carry any lulls by out- singing, -screaming and -rapping anyone else in heavy music right now. The energy and organised chaos of their show is now infamous and not as exaggerated by the media as a lot of other high energy shows. While the political angle could be off putting to some it was used in a very uplifting way a lot of the time. The spectacle of the show almost eclipsed the music at points.
Now we’ve chatted about the music I’ll do a brief roundup of the awards:
Best UK Breakthrough band: Milk Teeth. A well-deserved award, especially based on their performance later. Given the number of bands watching them from the side of the stage I wouldn’t be surprised to see Milk Teeth on a lot of bigger tours sometime soon.
Best Festival: Hellfest Open Air. Hellfest always has the biggest and best line up so it’s no real surprise Hellfest won, and for good reason.
Best International Breakthrough Band: Knocked Loose. I think Architects’ Sam Carter, who accepted the award on their behalf, said it best. It’s fantastic that a band who are unashamedly heavy are receiving so much love.
Best Album Artwork: Sikth- The Future In Whose Eyes? Artwork by Meats Meier. This is a really striking cover and fully encapsulates the feel of the album.
The H Award: The Sophie Lancaster Foundation. The H award is given to those who contribute something truly special from the world of heavy music. The Sophie Lancaster Foundation has certainly done that through its work to recognise hate crime against alternative subcultures.
Best Producer: Will Putney. His CV includes many truly cutting edge bands who all have an excellent production job, very well deserved.
Best Live Band: Gojira. Such a hugely emotional band with so much power behind them, it’s no surprise they’ve been awarded this award.
Best International Band: Metallica. This is the only award I’m upset by. Metallica are truly an important band in the history of heavy music. However, they’re not as cutting edge or relevant as they once were, even the other more established acts in this category are still involved in discussions of the future of heavy music. Metallica are great, but they don’t need more awards.
Best Photographer: Ed Mason. I’m not a super visual person, but it is apparent to even someone such as myself that Ed Mason is a highly talented photographer, who does truly deserve the award.
Best UK Band: Architects. For how good this band have always been, it’s criminal that they’re only now getting the recognition they deserve. They deserve the recognition they’re getting, especially after the recent knocks they’ve had. Architects are really truly amazing.
Best Album: While She Sleeps- You Are We. You Are We is truly an amazing album, the torrent of riffs and interplay between vocalists has certainly elevated WSS over their peers. It’s great to see British heavy music getting recognised for its quality.